I could have saved himself a morning of frustration by reading the following note in the publishers section on the second page of “A Kid’s Guide to the Voting Process” before I read the book:
“The facts on which this book is based have been thoroughly researched. Documentation of such research can be found on page 44. While every possible effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the publisher will not assume liability for damages caused by inaccuracies in the data and makes no warranty on the accuracy of the information contained herein.”
I checked my other Kid Lit political textbooks to see if they had the same kind of disclaimer. Perhaps, I thought, this is a common phenomenon I never noticed. Nope, no other book had anything like the disclaimer. The documentation of research is found on page 44 according to the disclaimer. Here’s the problem: The “Chapter Notes” begin on page 43 and continue on page 44. “The Chapter Notes” only include websites. On page 44, there’s a section entitled “Further Reading.” “Further Reading” contains two subsections, the first is entitled “Books” and includes three books, two of which are aimed at a significantly higher reading level. The second section is entitled “Works Consulted” and contains four books and several more web addresses. So which of these sections is the documentation of research? None is adequate.
The first inaccuracy I noticed was a nit-picky problem. On page 6 a paragraph says “In 1783, the American Colonists won the Revolutionary War… The United States would be a democracy.” The decision about whether or not the United States would be a democracy was not made by the founders until the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and was not approved by the country at large until 1788.
In a paragraph about the political party’s nominating conventions, held every four years to nominate that party’s presidential nominee, this sentence appears: “The candidate with the most electoral votes becomes the nominee for that party.” As anyone who has watched a convention knows, it’s delegate votes not electoral votes that are at play in the nominating convention.
The book has other problems in addition to accuracy. The chapter “Does Every Vote Make a Difference?” does not mention how important each vote can be until the last two sentences: “Many citizens feel their votes do not count because of the electoral system. Others think that the system works well and should remain in place.”
I could continue, but the inaccuracy of factual data makes this book a non-starter. Would any teacher let a student turn in a paper with the kind of disclaimer about accuracy this book has?